February 16, 2015

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If you're interested in Taiwan, re-subscribe to my new URL

Really sorry, that I have not updated this blog for a while, and that the RSS feed is recently acting up, but it has a reason. I am moving all Taiwan posts out of this blog to a new URL: http://taiwanexplorer.blogspot.com/

If you're interested in my Taiwan posts, please subscribe here:
http://taiwanexplorer.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

This blog will become more personal and back to the roots, and I'm not really sure what I will share here in the future, but could be all kinds of stuff. I realized that work and family just doesn't allow me anymore to update frequently, and I probably have less to say than 7 years ago when I started this blog (OMG! It's 7 years already). But this blog has a lot of historic value, so I will definitely keep it around, but my main focus now is Taiwan Explorer blog, where I hope I will find time to offer a somewhat more regular posting.

For daily updates you can follow me on my Facebook Page and Twitter, Instagram, and Flipboard.

Thanks for following regardless where!

January 1, 2015

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2014: A blogging year in review

2014 is over now, and it's time to review this blog a little, something I do every year (such as in 2013 and 2014). The past year was one of the years where I published the least posts of any year - only 39 in total (which is less than 1 per week). That's partly because I was busy, and partly because I was lazy, but mainly because I shared most of my opinions in bite-size pieces on my Facebook page, and I had not enough time to also extensively update here. Blogging for me should be something longer, well thought-through and timeless, while social media has that instant aspect to it, where you write what comes to mind, publish it and garner reactions very quickly, but in a day or two the story is old news already. Fact is, most conversations are happening on social media these days, not in the comment section below. When it comes to visits and pageviews, it was a good year. This blog had around 561,000 visits (a record year), and 1,077,000 page views (visits up 26%, pageviews up 11% compared to 2013). Basically visits are going up, pageviews are going down in the past 3 years, which is an interesting trend. My most popular post of 2014 with nearly 10,000 views was For Westerners: Downsides Of Living In Taiwan. All my posts published in 2014 have had around 1700 views on average, which is quite a high number. I'm glad people are reading my stuff. I think in 2015 things won't change that much: My private life is busy, and will continue to be busy, but I will try to find more time for myself. I will continue to focus on quality here rather than quantity, but this blog will definitely keep on running, now almost 7 years in total. Amazing, how time flies. Thank you for reading and following.


I wish you a happy new year 2015! You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

October 9, 2014

May 25, 2014

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New blog design for a new age

My blog is finally redesigned and up to date for the new age! What was important to me this time was that the template is responsive (means it adjusts to any screen size, from smartphone to tablet to desktop PC). Traffic from mobile devices has been growing every year, and I've been looking for a template that is responsive, and looks good at the same time. I wanted to have a clean look, and a more of a "personal blogger" layout, instead of a "magazine style" that I had previously, so I chose the template you see today. What was important to me is that it looks good on an iPad, because the iPad traffic is among all the mobile traffic the fastest growing.

The best part of this new design is the top panel: When you click on the top left button, it's like pulling a drawer where lots of stuff is stored. You will get an intro, popular posts, twitter feed, stats, and more. The top middle button leads to my social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The top right button leads to search. Once you're done, you can push the drawer back, all the widgets disappear, and you focus on the content again. Another change I made is I went back to a serif typeface for the content, I think reading is easier that way.I've also fixed the issue, where it was not possible to select text. The right click is still disabled, so if you want to quote me, you need to select the text and then copy it with CTRL or Command C.

The overall design is done now, but I plan to do further tweaking when I have time. There are still small things that bug me, such as the commenting area, the links and a few other issues. I'd also like to have some stats for individual posts visible on the left sidebar under the comment count widget, and I'm considering to change the post title font, but for now I kinda like it. Big props to Automattic for offering this beautiful Wordpress like template for free for those who still stick to Blogger. Now I'm looking forward to update more often here. The accidental hiatus is over.

January 5, 2014

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2013: A blogging year in review

2013 was a year with unprecedented changes in my personal life, and that had a huge impact on my blogging. I didn't dedicate to my blog as much time as I used to in the years before, instead I chose to update more frequently and regularly on my social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), because it required less effort, but it was almost equally rewarding. Some call that microblogging, so maybe I wasn't that far from where I used to be. Anyway, blogging is changing, as I have noted a while ago.

The year of transition

One of the things that has changed this year was my transition from a diversified blog, that covered various general topics (many of personal nature), to an even more Taiwan-centric blog. And to solidify this new direction I have also changed my blog's name a few weeks ago.

My most popular posts of 2013

According to Blogger's stats, below are the most popular posts of 2013. As you can see, a lot of them deal with issues concerning foreigners, or discuss aspects of Taiwan-China relations.

01. Are White guys status symbols for Taiwanese girls? | 11016 views

02. What are foreigners doing in Taiwan? | 9912 views

03. Difficulties of picking a Chinese name for your baby | 6238 views

04. My Taipei guide is updated! | 4883 views

05. Frequently asked questions for Taiwanese girls who date foreigners | 4636 views

06. Politeness, manners, and etiquette in Taiwan | 4536 views

07. Taiwan Mother's Day fiasco | 4009 views

08. Why I'm leaving China, err Taiwan - spoof | 3848 views

09. 中國台北屏東 "Zhongguo Taibei Pingdong" Scandal | 3705 views

10. Is the Taiwan independence movement on the rise? | 3116 views

What's in store for 2014?

For those of you who have stuck around another year with me, thank you for your patience, and for reading my stuff. For 2014 I'm planning to update a little bit more often here, and I'm thinking to come up with some new concepts to make it more interesting. I wish you a happy new year, and if you haven't visited Taiwan yet, I hope you'll have the chance this year.

September 1, 2013

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Of how blogging is changing


It feels like it was yesterday when I was celebrating my blog's 5th year of existence. At that time I felt quite festive and positive about blogging, but recently I'm not. If you're following me for a while now you must have noticed that my updates have become less and less in recent weeks. It's not that I decided to give up blogging all together, I just have no energy. This year brought two big changes in my life: The birth of my first baby, and a big jump in my career. Now I'm working even longer hours, and when I come home I usually spend it with my daughter and rest as much as it's humanly possible. During the weekends I'm usually very exhausted, I don't even go out anymore. That's not only because of the physical exhaustion, it's terribly hot in Taipei this summer, and going out with a baby always requires careful planning and more effort. The thing is, I still love writing, sharing, and discussing issues related to Taiwan, and I do so quite actively on my Facebook page. What I like about Facebook is that it's so easy to interact with people, find new followers (in Taiwan literally every young person is there), and have great discussions. In addition to that I can write short or long posts, or just share a photo or a video, and it's perfectly fine. I always saw this blog broader than that. It was meant as a resource on various things, such as traveling, culture, customs, challenges of expat life, because before I moved to Taiwan I felt that there was no blog, that would offer something like that. Sure there were resources, but they were not coherently presented, or specifically written with the thought of helping other people. While I love the ease of use and flexibility of social media, I wouldn't want to turn this blog into a Facebook like experience. I want to keep it as it is, but the problem is I lost my blogging mojo. It's not that I ran out of ideas, to the contrary, my drafts keep piling up in recent weeks. Quite often I start writing a new post, and after few paragraphs I stop, because I feel it's not good, or I'm not sure, if my sentences make sense. I know that this is related to high pressure and stress at work. I spend on average 11 hours in the office every day, the scope of responsibilities is beyond everything I had to deal with in the past. While this recent career jump is important for my family's future financial security, it's also taking a toll on me, but I hope just temporarily. I'm not announcing anything new here, I'm just explaining why the updates have become less in recent weeks.

What is blogging today?

Personal blogging that became popular in the mid 2000s is in decline. First it was Twitter and Facebook that slowed it down, but today it's YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and tons of other (usually mobile) platforms that lure away potential new bloggers, and prevent them from signing up to Wordpress or Blogger like it was common a few years ago. You see before the iPhone and iPad everybody spent their time on their PC, and the window to the internet was the web browser. This was a world where Microsoft and Yahoo! still mattered. Apple, and soon after them Google, changed everything. Every website and service has to be optimized for mobile now, mobile apps rule the current digital experience, the desktop computer and the web browser are becoming less and less important. We spend hours and hours staring at mini screens and scrolling through various applications on our smart devices, and we're fine with it. Everything is fast paced and short-lived on mobile. How much value does a popular Tweet have a week later? Why is Snapchat such a big thing? Who reads old Facebook posts? The bottom line is: What happened yesterday doesn't matter anymore. Social media platforms are encouraging us to share all the time, but it can't be that we always have something valuable to share. This previously nonexistent need (or in some cases urge) to share doesn't seem to be going away any time soon, it will at least stick around for one generation. Whenever I think about all this I'm not very optimistic about mankind's future. It's beyond amazing to just press one little virtual button on my iPhone and have a video chat with my family back in Europe for nearly zero cost. I love technology, and I want to see more innovation. At the same time I wish we would slow down a little, and put the focus back to the content rather than the container. That's why I will update my blog only when I'll have something interesting to say. I think this post is a good start, I don't have my mojo back yet, but it's a start.